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Social workers struggling with CPD requirements in pandemic

Social Work England report explores how to tackle late submission

CPD hard to submit during pandemic say social workers
Social workers need more help with CPD

Published by Professional Social Work Magazine, 1 February, 2022

A survey by Social Work England of attitudes to CPD has found 60 per cent of social workers cited lack of time as a barrier to completing their records, and 18 per cent felt their employer didn’t support them.

In addition, 40 per cent felt that CPD submissions were not a priority during the pandemic.

In its latest Emerging Themes report, Social Work England includes a section where the CPD process is explored, social workers give their opinions, and an assessor offers advice on how best to present your submission.

The advice follows 125 practitioners being removed from the register at the end of 2021 for failing to meet an extended deadline of November 2021 to upload CPDs to renew registration. Analysis of the previous year’s entries also led to 89 social workers being placed under advisories after assessors found fault.

The regulator now requires all social workers to have a minimum of two pieces of CPD on record, and for one of these to involve reflection with a manager or peer. Social Care Wales decided towards the end of 2021 that social workers who worked through the pandemic will have met 50 per cent of their CPD requirements for re-registration, in alterations made to protect the profession.

The most common type of CPD reported by respondents to the SWE report was online learning and training.

Although a large proportion said the pandemic had hindered completion of CPDs, 35 per cent stated Covid challenges had given them a new perspective: “By undertaking reflection on COVID-19 and recording this as part of their CPD, some social workers were able to consider the challenges of new and different ways of working.”

Social workers were largely positive about the CPD that they had completed over the past 12 months, with 71 per cent considering it accessible, 69 per cent considering it useful, and 67 per cent considering it relevant. They particularly valued opportunities relevant to their day-to-day roles and those that helped them to improve their practice and the support they provide to people.

The report authors describe the most successful forms of CPD: “The assessors felt that social workers generally found it easier to describe the impact of a training course on their practice, but more difficult to describe the impact of a case they worked on.

“They also found the clearest reflections were those where the social worker could articulate the benefits of their learning to their practice as well as the people they supported.”

Despite issues raised, 83 per cent of social workers value CPD and 77 per cent believe it protects the integrity of the profession.

A CPD assessor said: “CPD is fundamental to career-long learning. It underpins a social worker’s continued competence and fitness to practise and is vital to practising safely and in a way that supports the public’s confidence in the profession.

“Social work is a constantly changing field and keeping up with changes, including legislation, policy and research is essential. It can also help social workers feel confident in their own practice. There is always room for improvement, and as assessors, we want to see social work be the very best it can be.”

Social Work in England: Emerging Themes is the second report from Social Work England in a series of three detailed explorations of the sector. The final report in 2023 will serve as a landmark overview of social work and its crucial role in society.